Seven Books to Read If You’re a Medicine Student
If you’re a medical student, chances are you study long hours and have very limited spare time for reading.
However, while studying medicine can at times feel all consuming, you may be interested in hearing from people who have been through it all already and come out the other side.
Here are seven excellent books (almost entirely written by practicing medics) which will hopefully remind you why you decided to study medicine in the first place.
This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctorby Adam Kay
This funny yet shocking book has been a bestseller for over a year, won four National Book Awards and been the Sunday Times Number One Bestseller for over eight months.
Why has this book captivated so many readers? That has to be down to the sheer honesty of the author Adam Kay, a Junior Doctor who writes about his experiences working for the UK’s NHS in obstetrics and gynecology.
Created from pages of his own diaries after long, tiring shifts, Kay leaves out no detail of his life as a junior doctor, and the results are often shocking, hilarious and heart-breaking.
Medicine students will enjoy this book’s ability to make you laugh out loud, but also appreciate its honest portrayal of the not always glamourous life of a junior doctor.
Anyone who really enjoys this book will be pleased to know the BBC are releasing a TV adaptation. Fans may also be interested in reading Kay’s latest novel T’was the Nightshift before Christmas, which was published earlier this year.
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi was a Neurosurgeon who got diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the age of thirty-six, on the brink of completing his medical training. After many years being a doctor treating the dying, he became the patient.
What comes out of this is a touching exploration of life, death and the relationship between a doctor and a patient.
This is a book which you will find hard to forget and is undeniably inspiring despite its gloomy topic. Any medical student or anyone considering studying medicine should read this book.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
A million-copy bestseller, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is described as ‘a provocative exploration of the mysteries of the human mind’ and is written by Oliver Sacks, who has spent fifty years working as a neurologist.
Sacks gives case studies of individuals who have lost their memories and are no longer able to recognize common objects or people, as well as stories of people with extraordinary artistic or mathematical talents.
These case studies are part of the reason this book became so popular and medical students will enjoy this as it shows the strong, fascinating link between medicine and psychology.
The Intern Blues by Robert Marion
The Intern Blues follows three interns talking about their experiences throughout their year-long internships, where they had to deal with 100-hour weeks, being given life or death responsibility and surviving on very little sleep.
Before this puts you off medicine completely, you’ll be pleased to know that this book was written in 1985 and there have since been strict restrictions placed on the hours worked by residents.
However, many medicine students remark that the feelings, emotions and work described are still very relevant today and hence the book has been deemed a contemporary classic.
Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd
Dr Richard Shepherd is a forensic pathologist, meaning he solves the mysteries of sudden, unexplained deaths. He’s been involved in many high-profile cases such as the Hungerford Massacre, 9/11 and the Princess Diana inquiry and has performed over 23,000 autopsies in his working life.
Unnatural Causes gives a fascinating insight into his career, which is sometimes gruesome and chilling but always interesting. It also gives readers a glimpse into Dr Shepherd’s personal life, and the strains the job takes on his relationships and his own emotions.
Those currently studying or looking to study medicine will enjoy reading this, as it sheds light on another side of medicine which isn’t talked about as frequently and offers readers a truthful window into the joys and hardships of the career.
In Stitches by Anthony Youn
Growing up in a small town where diversity was uncommon, Dr Youn, an Asian-American kid with thick glasses and a massive protruding jaw, stuck out from his classmates like a sore thumb.
However, his visit to an oral surgeon to get his jaw reconstructed let to a major breakthrough in his life’s calling. Youn went on to become an extremely successful celebrity plastic surgeon, and he explains in this book how he achieved this.
Medicine students will be able to relate to his student filled with study, and his attempts to master dating while trying to complete a medicine degree.
In Stitches lives up to its name, both leaving you in stitches with Youn’s sense of humor as well as leaving you contemplating what he had to say.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Stiff is an exploration of postmortem bodies and what happens when you donate your body to science.
Roach approaches this seemingly dreary topic in an extremely humorous (albeit occasionally stomach-churning) way, covering a wide range of topics from human decomposition, using corpses in car crashes, crucifixion experiments and head transplants.
Not a book for the squeamish, but Stiff certainly gives a good insight into human bodies and what happens to them after you die. It’s everything you never knew you wanted to know about dead bodies.